February 20, 2008

MUSIC: American Idol 08: women's semifinals, week 1

It's the ladies' turn to take on the 60s tonight. The highs are higher, the lows are lower, and a few early frontrunners are established.

The quick rundown:

Kristy, "Rescue Me" -- There's not an ounce of sex to be found in this performance. What does Kristy think "take me, baby" means? It's a pretty enough voice, but it lacks the horny rawness that this song requires.

Joanne, "I Say a Little Prayer" -- Kudos to her for getting Bacharach's tricky rhythms right, but her pitch is off throughout, and her voice is a bit too strident and piercing for my taste.

Alaina, "More Today Than Yesterday" -- The slow intro doesn't work, but once the tempo picks up, it's a confident performance, and great fun to watch.

Amanda, "Baby, Please Don't Go" -- Frantic, inarticulate shrieking and a remarkably unattractive voice make for one of the most painful performances in Idol history.

Amy, "Where the Boys Are" -- ...and miraculously, Amy manages to be even worse than Amanda. The pitch is disastrous throughout, and it's absolutely the wrong song for her.

Brooke, "Happy Together" -- There's just a hint of country in her voice, and it works surprisingly well on this song. It's not a particularly memorable performance, but it's pleasant.

Alexandréa, "Spinning Wheel" -- From the moment she enters down those stairs, she's in complete control of the stage and the audience. The melisma break coming out of the chorus into the second verse is impeccable. Fabulous!

Kady, "A Groovy Kind of Love" -- Kady seems to be on the verge of falling asleep even as she sings. That makes two of us.

Asia'h, "Piece of My Heart" -- It's a very relaxed, comfortable performance. There's something about her voice -- a slightly choked, strangled quality -- that rubs me the wrong way, but she's certainly got talent, and I do want to hear her again.

Ramiele, "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me" -- She certainly knows how to work the melodrama, and her dynamics are nicely controlled. Where most singers would be pushing like hell on those big belt notes at the end, you have the sense that Ramiele is just getting warmed up and has a couple more levels of volume to go if she needs them.

Syesha, "Tobacco Road" -- Incredibly dull song, and the arrangement is, I think, a bit too rock for her voice and style. Given those flaws, it was a very good performance.

Carly, "The Shadow of Your Smile" -- the low notes are too low for her, she's working awfully hard for the high notes, and this is not a song that should be belted in the first place. She may have a good voice, but her musical instincts aren't good.

Deserving to come back next week: Alexandréa, Ramiele, Alaina.

Not sure yet, but would like to hear more: Asia'h, Syesha, Brooke, Carly.

Won't miss 'em when they're gone: Kady, Kristy, Joanne, Amanda, Amy.

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